Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Modern Times

I've been thinking about the incident of yesterday.  And then surprisingly, my rabbi emailed me to tell me about a book written about a friend of mine.  (I'm not going to get it and read it.)  I talked about the day and got around to mentioning the Nook.  He asked about it.  I touted all its wonders.

Do people in legacy publishing realize the sea change that's occurring now?  Or are they like the Amish pretending they're living in an era that's passed?  Did it occur to that agent that after not hearing from her for about 6 months that not only did I not even remember I had written to her but that I might have taken control of my book and gone digital?

What are they seeing in legacy publishing that so many of us no longer see?  Any upside there is to legacy publishing is more than balanced out by what digital offers.

I did a book for Alpha/Penguin.  My agent at the time emailed me and asked if I could forget about the nonfiction book on gardening and do one on knitting instead.  Did I know anything about knitting?  Yes.  So I had a phone call from the scatty editor who said there would be 20 projects.  And I had 10 weeks.  I thought that was fairly insane but 20 projects isn't so bad.  I started in.  I finally got the contract.  The editor kept asking for more projects.  I realized I couldn't both write this and knit at the same time.  I struggled to find knitters.  Then when all the knitting from all around the country was done, this scatty editor asked where the photos were.  What photos?  The photos of the projects being made.  I pointed out the first issue--that wasn't in the contract.  And with her schedule forced on me, I couldn't be in Florida and California and points in between taking pictures. It wasn't 20 projects anymore, it was closer to 100.  It was one huge blow up after another with her.  She'd be good for a couple weeks and then throw a tizzy fit upsetting everyone.  Finally she left the company and I was forced on another editor who said she would never have given me 10 weeks to do a book like that, it would have been more like 18 months.  So all the knitting was done, all the patterns were done in the 10+ couple weeks extension.  And then they announced I needed an illustrator.  I went thru 3 people to get all the illustrations required.  I paid out most of my advance.  And then we sat for a year because we missed the original pub date.  By the time my book was published, the craze for knitting books had peaked.  They didn't get it into any of the chain stores like Borders.  I still owe them about $16,000.  I cleared nothing from the advance.  It all went to create the stupid book.  And when they owed me the final payment and my dog needed a cardiac specialist to live and I didn't have the money to pay for it, they wouldn't pay me.

So just tell me what's so great about legacy publishing.  Because this isn't the anomaly, it's the standard.  Sure if you're Amanda Hocking and they just threw 2 million bucks at you, your book is going to be in the stores.  Me, not so much.

Is it such a feather in your cap to be published by one of the Sick Six?  Is that really an ego boost?  I get an ego boost if I see Rise has sold another copy.  So I'm curious about their arrogance and complacency.  Where does that come from and is it deserved?

I'm bored by it.  The past is the past.  Digital isn't going away.

This vid has nothing to do with publishing, it's just gorgeous.  It's a Roy Orbison song sung by Cyndi Lauper. 

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